May 2014




ACHES & CLAIMS Behind the Buzz to Make Injections Less Painful
The Ache: whether it’s a vaccination, a blood draw or a numbing injection at the dentist, people find getting stuck with needles to be painful.
The Claims: Vibrating devices placed near the injection can trick the nervous system into dampening pain signals.
The Verdict: A handful of scientific studies have found the devices reduce perception of pain during needle sticks. More research is needed to confirm findings, scientist say. That said, some clinicians say their patients love them.
The theory behind the devices is that the body can process only a limited amount of sensation at once. When vibration is felt at the same time as pain the nervous system filters some of the pain signals to avoid flooding the brain with too much information, says Canadian psychologist Ronald Melzack, a professor emeritus at McGill University in Montreal who co-developed this so-called gate control theory of pain in the 1960’s. Dr. Melzack, who has no connection to companies selling the vibrating devices, says the filtering effect isn’t powerful enough to ease intense pain, but would make a needle-stick more tolerable.
Dental schools often teach students to wiggle the lip when giving the numbing shot, says Jeffry Shaefer, an assistant professor in charge of education on pain and anesthesia at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine.
The commercial devices are designed to make delivering effective vibration easier The DentalVibe is a $695. Device invented by dentist Steven G. Goldberg and sold to dentist by Bing Innovations LLC of Boca Raton, Fla. It has two prongs that provide pulsing vibrations.
In a 50-person Turkish study, published earlier this year in the journal of JSM Dentistry, patients got shots on one side of the mouth with the DentalVibe and the other side without. They reported less pain in the device side. Harvard researchers, in a study expected to be funded by Bing, will study the effect of the DentalVibe on pain from a particularly unpleasant shot called the “long buccal,” which anesthetizes the lower gum and check toward the back of the mouth.
The Buzzy is a vibrating plastic oval device that can be held or strapped to the skin while giving a shot. It is sold by MMJ Labs LLC in Atlanta in heavy-duty professional models for $70 to $100, or a consumer version for $40 ($60 for a larger model). Buzzy comes in black or with bumblebee or ladybug designs. Buzzy is used by patients for injections at home, and doctors administering Botox and fillers.
In December, Quest Laboratories rolled out a The Penguin a similar product to the Buzzy. Quest director says that “Everyone who has come in contact with it thinks it makes difference .
Dr. Sturner’s opinion on this new gadget is…..He does not want a plastic ladybug or bumble bee near his face. He thinks that it is a waste of money.
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